A dude at the gym today asked me to explain what is on the horizon for a guy who makes up stories for a living. "Do you just wake up in the morning and think... What should I make up today?" I just laughed and thought, "well, yeah, kind of..." He then spent about ten minutes telling me all the things he doesn't like about his job and his boss. Then I thought about how fortunate I am to do what I love for a living!
So many people I meet do not enjoy what they do for a living. Many feel trapped because it is the means to an end, rather than an end in itself.
I have been in that position before myself, for WAY too long...
The first jobs I remember liking were both volunteer jobs I did when I was in Middle School. I worked at the Humane Society, where I got to feed, walk and play with puppies, kittens, the occasional snake and ferret awaiting their permanent homes. The other job I did as a volunteer was at a local retirement community where I fed, walked up and down hallways pretending to be out on ranches, prairies and other farm oriented memories and played cards with lonely people, most of whom had lost memory and had returned to their childhoods in many ways. I went home feeling like I had made a difference in the lives of people who just wanted to be remembered or talked to. What I learned doing both of those jobs was that when you do something to make a difference in other people's lives, it makes a difference in your own.
Later, to make money, I sold newspapers door to door. I have had my own handyman business, with a high school buddy and then tried it again with my future brother-in-law (I wasn't too handy it turned out). I spent time selling health club memberships in a small mall (talk about a job that seems to annoy everyone you come in contact with). I have sold clothing in numerous stores where the greatest benefit was a good discount on clothing. I have waited on tables, actually all four years I was in college. I have been a busboy. I have been a dishwasher. I have worked for people who were ultra demanding and couldn't understand why I wasn't totally sold out and passionate about what they found to be exhilarating work (dishwashing?).
After college, I sold Computerized Shipping Systems, Computer Output Microfiche and Telecommunications. While managing Major Accounts for a Fortune 500 Telecommunications company I found myself always telling story after story and being told by my clients that I should do something with my stories and by my client services people to abbreviate my stories and get to the point of the meetings we were attending. All the while I was spending every evening from 8-11 writing in my little den at home and forming several novels until finally I came upon a book that needed my voice to tell the story.
WE ALL HAVE GIFTS! It is important to find how we can merge the passion for our gifting with the ability to make a living doing so if we truly want to find fulfilling work.
My first true career was in Corporate sales and management, where I used my Business Major with emphasis in Marketing and Management. But what I hadn't used much to that point was my "PhD in English literature" which I acquired merely by the fact that I was raised by two English professors.
As I wrote by lamplight, I wrote with the intention to change my life. To do what I had more passion to do. To tell stories - FOR A LIVING!
On January 1st 1995 I wrote a journal entry that said: In one year, I will have written a book that will change my life. I will find a publisher who will pay me to write. I will write for a living and I will make a good living! With that declaration, all I had to do was the hard work to make it come true. In 1996 I self-published my first book and within three months of my publishing I was picked up by one of the largest publishers in the world. My words had put into motion what my future would be, that was 21 years ago and I am still fulfilling that simple declaration. It isn't always easy. It isn't the best financial living I could have made (I was good at commissioned sales!) When a fourteen year old boy tells me with a hint of tears in his eyes that I can't be done with the GP series because they are his friends, I realize I am in fact doing what I was put on this earth to do!
This year marks my 20th year since my first book was published by Random House/Ballantine Books and I have been blessed to have made writing my second career! Twenty years is a long time in a person's life. I have been fortunate to have spent the past twenty years making a living telling and writing stories!
I am presently knee-deep writing my first true fantasy novel; a time-travel tale. I have plans for many new adventures on the near horizon!
This week I am talking to two master creators in two areas my writing has not yet taken me: Screenplays and Comic Books! Crossed fingers! Prayers sent! Ready for new journeys and new adventures! I wrote this in my journal today - "I will have one of my books turned into a movie and the great thing is it will be the first book in my six book series. I will find new ways to express my creativity, which will take me on some amazing creative journeys and perhaps that beach house I have been dreaming about for the past decades will someday be a reality."
I am also awaiting word from an incredible publisher to see if I might be fortunate enough to join her list of incredible talented authors and illustrators!
I'm thinking 2017/2018 are going to be real gamechangers! I hope my gym buddy will write down some very cool things about how he could use his God-given talents to change his life and those who are influenced by his life as a result! Tomorrow when I wake up and think - What should I make up today? I'll say a quick prayer of thanksgiving that I get to do what I love another day and then I'll go to the gym to entertain my buddies with a story or two...